We learned this week that the House Appropriations Committee for Social Services cut state Domestic Violence Services funding by 50 percent—$2,375,000! Current funding is $4.75 million. Domestic Violence Services funding was one of the only Department of Social Services programs cut by 50 percent. For Hope House this translates to a $57,585 reduction for shelter services.
This decision will have a devastating impact on the victims of domestic violence that we serve everyday. This money is for core services, it pays for the life saving services we offer in shelter. We will turn away even more women and children then ever before. Last year we turned away 1,331 women and children because we were full. That number is more than the 1,228 women and children we were able serve in shelter last year. With more cuts to funding the number turned away will only grow.
The headline for the Examiner on Friday, February 12th read “Harbour guilty in beating death. Lynn Kelly was strangled and bludgeoned with baseball bat”. Demetrius Harbour was Lynn Kelly’s boyfriend. With this dramatic and deep of a cut we know the impact will be more lives like Lynn’s lost due to domestic violence.
This extraordinary cut to the Governor’s budget—where no cuts were proposed—came as a surprise in an amendment by Committee Chairman Rep. David Sater (R-Cassville). The Chairman’s amendment included nearly $32 million in reductions to Department of Social Services programs and services for Fiscal Year 2011. Committee Chairman Rep. David Sater said the budget had to be cut by reductions in services that are “not essential” and “not critical.” Statements like this are unacceptable, women and children’s lives are essential and are critical and we need your help in stopping this drastic action from going forward.
All members of the Missouri House of Representatives need to hear from those who work in domestic violence programs, who support those programs, and who are committed to ending violence against women. Our Representatives need to hear the impact these cuts will have on programs and that the proposed cuts will mean more women and children will die because they could not access life saving services.
If you know members of the House Budget Committee it is very important to contact them as the issue is now in front of them for consideration and vote. Follow this link to learn who is on the committee: http://www.house.mo.gov/content.aspx?info=/bills101/commit/com011.htm
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS:
• Go to http://www.moga.mo.gov/ and click on “Legislator Look-up”. Enter your zip code to find your legislator.
• For an alphabetical listing of Representatives, go to http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx
Please help us in reaching out to our Representatives so they can hear from everyone across the state the devastating impact these drastic cuts will have. Ask them to take a stand for abused women and children—cast the votes to restore these essential services for women and children who are victims of violence in their own homes. We must restore the funding!